Genetic cancer testing becoming more affordable

AUSTIN (KXAN) — When actress Angelina Jolie wrote an op-ed in the New York Times in 2013 about her decision to have a preventive double mastectomy after she tested positive for the BRCA1 gene, doctors saw an influx of women turning to their medical providers to see if that test would be available to them.

At the time, most companies were charging $3,000 for the blood test, which made it unattainable for some women who were uninsured or whose insurance did not cover the test.

Fast forward four years and the medical landscape is different. Genetic testing to determine a person’s risk of developing breast or ovarian cancer because of a positive BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene is becoming more affordable.

New technology is allowing independent labs to charge less for the testing, even if it is not covered by a patient’s insurance.

People who test positive for the BRCA (short for breast cancer) gene have a greater risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer, along with some other cancers.

The U.S. Preventative Health Task Force has issued a statement encouraging women with a history of breast and ovarian cancer in their families to have the test, but, historically, it has been out of reach for women whose insurance won’t cover it.

“It’s so much more expensive for women after they face cancer, it’s an enormous bill. It needs to be affordable because some women don’t have insurance,” said Leticia Pena, who was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 29 and later tested positive for the BRCA gene, along with her mother, great aunt, a sister, and her daughter, Megan Rojo.

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